Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. has launched Slingshot Beacon which, according to the company, is the industry’s first collision avoidance collaboration and communications platform for space — Slingshot Beacon will be piloted by OneWeb, Spire Global Inc., Orbit Fab and others.
The players participating in this pilot program account for 53% of satellite constellations in LEO. Slingshot Beacon will be used as a centralized communication and coordination platform to resolve on-orbit conjunctions, notify others about planned maneuvers, and more.
Slingshot Beacon connects operators across different organizations on a single platform, which has never been done before now. It provides customers with existing positional data and packages it in a digestible way with all the necessary information to resolve a conjunction. The tool will improve transparency, safety, and sustainability in space for all owner-operators, helping to ensure high risk conjunctions are appropriately mitigated.
As an industry, there are 115,000 satellites planned to enter space by 2030, which means more potential collision avoidance decisions will need to be made. Slingshot Beacon is designed to be an end-to-end communications and collaboration platform to help mitigate those potential risks, and facilitate safer satellite operations as the domain becomes more congested.
Presenting critical data in a more digestible way will enable owner-operators to make better decisions faster, giving governments and the public more confidence in safe space operations as the number of objects in space grows.
Slingshot Beacon was inspired by the guard channel, a special radio frequency that is monitored 24/7 for mayday alerts or other calls for help. The technology is orbit agnostic, and can help organizations monitor their assets, like space vehicles and satellites, in and through all orbits, LEO to the moon.
Slingshot Beacon is a modern, interactive web portal and mobile application that will allow commercial agencies to interact, company to company.
Slingshot Aerospace has already started beta testing Slingshot Beacon’s communication functionalities with the named users. The plan is to introduce a robust set of features on a rolling basis starting
in Q3 2021.
In addition, Slingshot Beacon enables users to protect their assets in space by providing an actively curated directory of operator contact information; reports on environmental anomalies; community alerts for planned maneuvers; and conjunction data messages (CDMs) and ephemeris sharing (or, accurate object position sharing).
The tool pulls in public data as well as customer’s private data, providing users with a secure and robust plug-and-play catalog of validated data. It will bring in automated risk monitoring and an objective, unbiased, curated ensemble of space data and robust analytics, providing unmatched space domain awareness.
To deliver data and relevant analytics on customer demand, Slingshot Aerospace has partnered with Numerica Corporation whose is able to deliver precision tracking data and analytics, based on the company’s state-of-the-art, global telescope network and data processing suite, relied upon for LEO-to-GEO daytime and nighttime space surveillance operations.
Slingshot Aerospace acquired Stellatus Solutions LLC, a company that was building a platform that would help operators manage and protect their satellites by streamlining communication and traffic coordination between operators. Through the transaction, Slingshot Aerospace acquired research and intellectual property, which accelerated the launch of Slingshot Beacon. The company also hired Stellatus Solutions LLC co-founders Holly Highfill and Kishen Raghunath, who will serve as Slingshot Aerospace’s Director, Customer Engagement and Strategy, and Director, Finance and Strategy, respectively.
Stellatus was born out of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Hacking for Defense Program, where Audrey Schaffer, Former Director, Space Strategy and Plans, Office of the Secretary of Defense, challenged a team to figure out how to create a communications channel for operators to increase space situational awareness with a specific emphasis on alerting the community of security concerns in space. After the program ended, the team continued the project and formed Stellatus, which was then acquired by Slingshot Aerospace.
“OneWeb is committed to responsible operational practices and new tools like Slingshot Beacon can help enhance space safety by creating additional avenues for communication,” said John Guiney, Vice President, Fleet Management Systems, OneWeb. “We look forward to working together to continue advancing ways we can all collaborate and work together to keep space safe.”
“Slingshot Beacon enables collaboration among all space operations stakeholders providing even more information to users, when and how they want it, powering everything from near real-time situational awareness to on-demand cross-company secure communication and file sharing,” said Melanie Stricklan, Co-founder and CEO, Slingshot Aerospace. “Slingshot Aerospace is re-imagining the future of space safety and sustainability with high-value, global collaboration. We’re extremely grateful to our customers and the space community for their continued belief in our team and products.”
“As a member of the space community, Spire recognizes the role we have in contributing to a safe space environment while protecting our assets and ensuring mission success for our customers and partners,” said Keith Johnson, VP & GM for Government Solutions, Spire Global Inc.. “By providing space data to and participating in Slingshot Beacon, we will continue our commitment to a safe space environment and be part of an innovative technology – the first of its kind – that will allow us to communicate with other companies and agencies to increase collaboration and global space awareness.”
Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space company, is creating a bustling, in-space economy through on-orbit refueling. “We are designing the future of sustainability and mission flexibility for spacecraft, making docking and transferring fuel so reliable it gets boring,” said James Bultitude, Chief Engineer, Orbit Fab. “Public awareness is vital to ensuring that the difference between a safe, consensual rendezvous and a collision event is known and understood. Slingshot Beacon will streamline this communication, essential for successful maneuvers in the growing satellite servicing segment.”
- Internal and external collaboration
- File sharing, voice conference bridge
- Live and historic data processing
- Powerful workflows with automation tools for risk screening
- Notifications and alerts (maneuvers, conjunctions and other alerts)
- Third party plugin/ integration marketplace support for operations management tools
- Upload/download customer ephemeris/telemetry data capture
- Easy onboarding
- End-to-end security
- Built-in compliance
- Leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services
In less than 4 years, Slingshot Aerospace has already seen rapid growth by earning millions of dollars in revenue from early customer contracts, and the firm is leveraging government dollars to build its IP.